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Preamp pedal and Focuscrite ISA Two : better together or waste of money?

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Preamp pedal and Focuscrite ISA Two : better together or waste of money?

Postby moodysky » Tue Sep 03, 2019 6:04 pm

Hi there! :smirk:

I've just purchased a Focuscrite ISA Two preamp and I've been wondering if it would be useless to buy one of those Tech 21 preamp for my bass. Would it add something or would the ISA two just be enough to improve my sound? In this case I'd just have to get an equalizer to adjust frequencies. I have to say that I don't have an amplificator.

The question may sound dumb but I'm interested in your opinions!

Thanks a lot
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Re: Preamp pedal and Focuscrite ISA Two : better together or waste of money?

Postby CS70 » Tue Sep 03, 2019 11:37 pm

They do the same job. As preamps, they will probably provide a little different coloration when driven hard.

However (if the "Tech 21 pedal" is for example the Bass Driver) they are quite different products: the Focusrite is a studio-oriented box which contains two ISA 110s, which are all round preamps which work beautifully with bass, but just as beautifully with a microphone.

The pedal is a specific tool for bass with a foot activation switch, onboard equalizer and just a drive knob and, most importantly, which is rugged enough to be at ease on a live stage with all its hazards.

So it's like having two different cars - whether or not it's a good idea depends on exactly what you expect from them and what's the context of your use. You can use the Tech 21 in the studio, but I would definitely never put an ISA Two under anyone's feet :D
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Re: Preamp pedal and Focuscrite ISA Two : better together or waste of money?

Postby 6120 » Wed Sep 04, 2019 11:36 am

I've had the ISA One for about 10 years now and I use it for all DI guitars & basses (also use it for mics) and it works brilliantly for that role. I then run the DI bass into an amp sim - I use Amplitube for bass & Scuffam S-Gear for guitars - and it's as good a sound as you can get for the money.
I really don't think you meed the Tech 21 unit if you've got the ISA Two and a decent amp sim or even just a decent daw as they all come with enough vsts to get the sound you want.
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Re: Preamp pedal and Focuscrite ISA Two : better together or waste of money?

Postby moodysky » Thu Sep 05, 2019 11:14 am

Ok great, thanks for your replies!

Just so I know, do you use an equalizer to shape the tone of your bass? Do you have a pedal or do you use a VST on your DAW?
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Re: Preamp pedal and Focuscrite ISA Two : better together or waste of money?

Postby CS70 » Thu Sep 05, 2019 12:52 pm

I don't play bass live, but of course I record it and mix it in the studio.

There's no fixed way to do it, but I always try to get an appropriate sound right away.

I do that not so much via a separate EQ but rather using the instrument and amp controls (well, they all are a form of EQ in the end :) ): It pays off using one of these hybrid P/Jazz basses as with volume, tone and blend controls as together with the right preamp they give you a full range of bass sounds from purring background to thundering Lemmy-style distortion. Most often I use the ISA One or, for more character, a Black Finger, which has an fantastic optical compressor (did I mention I love optical compressors? Yes I think I did :D)

During mixing, further shaping with a parametric EQ happens quite often, the help the base sound sit in the mix. A typical approach is to remove high end and replace it with the output of an Exciter. Really depends on the player, the bass, the song and the bass line.

In the end keep in mind it matters nothing how you make a sound, only whether or not the sound is right to you.
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